NBA players are creatures of habit. Every player in the NBA has a signature move that they like to utilize over and over again. Some of course, are more affective than others. Maybe it is the stop on the dime pull up fifteen-footer that Russell Westbrook loves to do on a fast break, rather than taking it all the way to the rim. Maybe it is the plethora of up and under’s that Tiago Splitter often utilizes because of his fear of getting his baby hooks rejected into the stands. Or maybe it is a the ten pump fakes that Kobe Bryant likes to throw at a defender before he takes a fadeaway, since he decided not to keep his dribble alive. Regardless of what the reason is, every player has a signature move that they like to use over and over again.
In the past, some of the most famous signature moves were things like George Gervin’s finger roll, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s skyhook, and Hakeem Olajuwon’s Dream Shake. These were some of the deadliest moves that former players repeatedly used over and over again on their opponents to get a guaranteed bucket. Today, the game has evolved and players have borrowed some moves from the past, but they have also invented some of their own unique twists and turns as their own signature moves.
These are some of the most iconic signature moves that are the most easily recognizable in the NBA. If you had only a dark silhouette of their iconic moves, you would easily be able to identify who they are. In many ways, these players have copyrighted these moves as their own and regularly make use of it as a part of their arsenal, and so have many, many others.
7. Al Jefferson’s Jump Hook
Ever since the Charlotte Bobcats acquired big man Al Jefferson, the culture of the entire franchise has made a dramatic turn. The Bobcats have only made the playoffs once since they became the Bobcats, but for the first time since 2010, Michael Jordan and the Bobcats are relevant again.
Al Jeff is not your typical modern player. In many ways, he looks like he was transported right out of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Big Al exerts as little energy as possible into his offensive game. Instead, he uses a combination of superb footwork and his ambidextrous left and right hands to dominate the low post with his baby hooks. When Jefferson has you pinned inside the paint, he will either dip his left shoulder into your chest and go up with a baby hook with his right hand or he will dip his right shoulder into you and turn around for a left handed baby hook. It is one of the most effective and efficient shots in the league.
6. Manu Ginobili’s Euro-Step
Manu Ginobili has made a living off of his Euro-Step. Ginobili has never been the fastest guard in the league, but he knows how to take 2.5 steps off the dribble better than anyone else in the league. And it is this extra step that allows Manu to gain the extra competitive advantage over his defenders.
The way that Manu does this is by either picking up his dribble at that controversial moment where referees are not exactly sure when he stopped dribbling and gathered the ball. And because it is only a half step and not a full step, which all happens at a very fast speed, it is hard to say whether or not his Euro-Step was a travel.
Furthermore, Manu has become the founder of taking his Euro-Step to another level by turning it into a side step as well. So, instead of attacking the rim in a straight line, Manu uses his steps to go laterally. It looks awkward, but it is affective. Now, younger players such as James Harden, Tyreke Evans, and Dwyane Wade have adopted this patented move into their own games as well. However, it is this skinny Argentinian that really made the Euro-Step what it is today.
5. Rajon Rondo’s Behind the Back Ball Fake
Rajon Rondo returned midway through this season from an ACL injury, but he has come back just as strong. In fact, he had a triple-double on April 4th and was just shy of another triple-double on March 26th by one point. Rondo has never been an above the rim player; he has always flourished below the rim instead, so his ACL injury did little to hinder his game.
Rondo’s signature offensive move is his behind the back ball fake that he uses to go for a layup or to penetrate and kick. Rondo prefers to dribble with his right hand and then cradle the ball behind his back with that same hand making defenders think that he is passing the ball behind his back. And it is that little hesitation that paralyzes defenders for a brief moment, which opens up the lane for Rondo to either go for a layup or hit a man for a wide open three.
4. Tim Duncan’s Bank Shot
Tim Duncan certainly never patented the bank shot, but he pretty much owns the patent on it, since most NBA players rarely ever make use of the backboard anymore. The skyhook is a deadly shot, but it doesn’t look as cool as a dunk, similarly, a bank does not look as cool as a swish, which suits Tim Duncan just fine.
The Big Fundamental is named this way for a reason. Duncan is not about flash, but about production and efficiency. And the bank shot is one of the most efficient shots that you can take in basketball. Yet, Duncan is one of the few modern players that regularly makes use of the backboard into his game.
3. Tony Parker’s Tear Drop
With the explosion of athletic point guards in the league, many little men finish like to finish like big men on a fast break. However, there is much to be said about the slew of recent injuries to these types of players. Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook are just two of the most recent examples of players that have dynamite in their shoes, but come back down to earth with the harshest of landings.
Tony Parker, however, has routinely been one of the highest scorers in the paint; not just for point guards, but for anyone in the league. He does this by his uncanny ability to finish in the paint with his teardrops. Parker knows that he cannot finish above the rim on a fast break, but he does know that it does not matter how you get the two points just as long as you get them.
Tony’s teardrop is a little different from Derrick Rose’s push-off. The teardrop gets a little bit more elevation, which is essential to avoid getting it swatted. Parker usually uses the teardrop anywhere from 5 to 10 feet away from the rim with unusual accuracy. It is not the easiest shot in the world to take, but once you master it, it is one of the deadliest shots that you can add to your arsenal.
2. Steve Nash’s Runner Off of One Foot
Steve Nash likes to jump off of one foot as much as he does two feet to take his jumpers. Obviously, when Nash is taking a three-pointer, he’ll use both of his legs to gain elevation. However, when Nash is penetrating or working a pick-and-roll, he often likes to shoot off of one leg.
The reason for this is because it enables Nash to use his momentum to his advantage and it simultaneously throws the timing off for the defender to gather himself. Nash’s runner off of one foot is a difficult shot to master, but it is also a difficult shot to defend due to its fluidity. Today, smaller point guards are utilizing this shot more and more as they come off of pick and rolls, so that they do not have to waste that extra half second gathering themselves up for a proper jump shot off of two feet.
1. Dirk Nowitzki’s Fadeaway Off of One Foot
No one in the history of the NBA has made use of the step back fadeaway off of one foot like Dirk Nowitzki has. Dirk would have been disciplined for taking this type of shot had he been trained and coached in the US. But he grew up in Germany and it was his German coach that taught Dirk how to take this unconventional shot.
At seven feet, Dirk is already a difficult cover, but when he is fading away off of one foot, he is even more difficult to guard. It is one of the most unstoppable shots that anyone has in the NBA. It is no wonder that players like LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony are quickly using it more and more in their repertoire.